CITY DEVELOPMENT Official encourages long-range planning

Leaders want to ensure that the city's infrastructure can support growth.
COLUMBIANA -- One city councilman says Columbiana's governing bodies should cooperatively draw up a plan to keep future development from getting out of hand.
"From the first year that I was elected, I have felt that we needed to do some long-range planning. Everything we do is a reaction," said Councilman Don Leonard. "We need more planned, orderly growth."
Leonard has proposed a meeting among council, the city planning commission and the zoning board of appeals. He said the meeting will happen within a month.
"I think it's important that we all take a hard look at the future of Columbiana and plan it accordingly," Leonard said.
He said the last comprehensive plan for development in the city was created in about 1972. It's time to revisit that plan and to ensure that any plans for development fall in line with guidelines of the city's charter.
Leonard said the city's population grew so fast in the past dozen or so years that development nearly got out of control. He wants to ensure that doesn't happen again. He said housing developments are popping up all over the city to keep up with the population growth.
One of those developments, Firestone Farms on state Route 14, is a perfect example of the rapid growth. City Manager Keith Chamberlin said a year ago there were two homes started at the upscale development, and now there are more than 70.
"It just kind of took off," Chamberlin said.
Mayor Lowell Schloneger, chairman of the planning commission, said the meeting is a good idea.
"I don't know exactly what [Leonard] has in mind, but it doesn't hurt to keep communication in place," he said.
The mayor said Columbiana's sewer and water systems are state-of-the-art and ready to handle growth over the next 20 years. He said it's the city's infrastructure that should get a long-range look.
"We can sit down and help each other, but we have to develop a plan," Leonard said. "I'm hoping this will happen in a constructive way."

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